White and Blue

Hmmm…it’s the first day of spring and I’m finally getting around to posting some winter photos!  I actually wrote much of this post in early January, and I’m not sure what great interruption distracted me for this long!

For me, there are few things more exquisite than a landscape outlined in the pristine white of hoarfrost against a brilliant blue sky.  On Saturday, December 12, 2015, we had such a display.  I layered on the warm clothes and meandered around Bowness Park in northwest Calgary for a couple of hours.

Just what is hoarfrost?  According to Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) who studies the molecular dynamics of crystal growth and is the author of several books about snow and ice and the website SnowCrystals.com, frost is related to dew in the same way that snowflakes relate to raindrops.  It’s all about the condensation of water vapour–if it condenses into liquid water, you get raindrops and dew.  If it condenses directly into ice, you get snowflakes and frost.  Hoarfrost in particular requires cold, still air and a source of water vapour (Libbrecht, 1999).

I’ve noticed that hoarfrost tends to form more readily in low-lying places, likely due to the presence of a river or water body to provide the water vapour.  The other time it forms here in southern Alberta is typically in early winter (i.e. November) when fog rolls in from the east.  The fog tends to stick around when this happens, so skies are grey instead of blue.

Well, I figured out what halted me from finishing this post in January:  technical difficulties.  I think I’ve sorted them now, and will write my thoughts on posting winter pictures on the first day of spring.

We had a beautiful, snowy winter until about the middle of January, then a more-or-less permanent chinook arrived and to date we have not had enough snow to get out a shovel since.  Calgary becomes grey and tan and dirty and ugly when the snow melts.  It is not inspiring in any way, especially without a big and bold blue sky.  Usually by this time of year, each new sign of spring thrills me and I can hardly wait for things to turn green, but this year, I have not had enough winter (perhaps because I missed winter last year too while I lived in Victoria, BC).  It may still come, as one of the local meteorologists has repeatedly informed his viewers that we get most of our snow in March and April.  Either way, I have thousands of photos from all four seasons I could share with you!  What would you like to see next?!


One Comment

  1. Jessica March 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Love these photos and your story!

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